For nearly 20 years, I’ve traveled at least once a quarter for fun. Over the last six years, I’ve traveled 8-10 times a year as a working journalist. With few notable exceptions, that all came to a screeching halt this year.
Although not being able to travel might be a first-world problem, having closed borders is no laughing matter. Since restrictions started, here’s what I learned from the lack of travel over the past 10 months:
- Travel is a privilege. As with many things in life, being able to freely roam the world is an incredible blessing made possible by technology, heightened levels of wealth, and stable governments. I’m grateful to have lived in that world for so long and am confident it will return over the next few years.
- Travel is a measure of health. You know life is good when you can travel to just about anywhere. Not being able to do that is an uncomfortable reality that underscores just how scared and sick society is, both mentally and physically.
- Travel has some viable replacements. To scratch my itchy foot this year, my family traveled to several of Utah’s great outdoors. In many ways this was a simple return to how my family and I used to travel when we first started exploring our backyard. In other words, staycations are better than “no-cations.”
- Travel is a little overrated. As I’ve written before, travel can’t fix us and is a lousy yardstick for happiness. It also won’t automatically make us smart (although it can help) and it will never replace the feeling of home. In that way, travel is not the glamours cure-all it’s sometimes billed as.
- Travel is very underrated. At the same time, the world would be a better, less scary, and kinder place if more people traveled. I truly believe that. As Mark Twain famously wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Forming world opinions through televised and online reports is a great way to be misinformed.
- Travel is worth breaking “the rules” for. Although Americans are legally allowed to travel to any state in the country and a dozen foreign countries right now, doing so is widely discouraged by both government and health officials. And while both offer seasoned advice sometimes, that doesn’t mean we always have to accept it.